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Poster: Seto-Kaiba_Is_Stupid Date: Jul 11, 2009 3:04am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered

If an United States work, say a musical composition, is public domain in the United States, is it also public domain in Australia? I really want to use the melody of the 1906 song "Mary Is a Grand Old Name" with my own lyrics paying tribute to a 1980's icon who recently died (I think we all know who).

2nd, what is the copyright status of the imfamous DuMont Television Network's output? Some of it may of been repeated weeks after live telecast in some remote parts of the USA.

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jul 11, 2009 6:01am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered

Basically, any song written and composed by a person who died before 31 December 1954 is in the public domain in Australia. George M Cohan died in 1942. We also have rule-of-the-shorter term in Australia so, as the song has exceeded the maximum copyright period available in the US it is in the public domain in Australia too, regardless of our native laws.

The first broadcast of live TV is not publication under US law. But distribution of kinoscopes to affiliate networks falls within the definition of publishing in US law. If the item was published with or without a notice and not registered withing 3 months of publication and renewed within the year before the registration anniversary the kinoscope is public domain. Publication is either selling copies to the public or providing copies to another party to show to the public. Theatrical distribution and television syndication fall into the latter category.

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 14, 2009 5:36pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered (kinescopes, delayed broadcasts by affiliates)

Distribution of kinescopes to affiliate stations was NOT regarded as publication under the pre-1976 American copyright law. As we're talking about the Dumont network and the kinescope era, pre-1976 law applies. A few court decisions said that the networks and show producers had not forsaken their copyrights in these circumstances:

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/c01B.html#s315 (this case concerns NBC's broadcast of "Peter Pan" in 1960, shown on a delayed basis by a small number of affiliates)

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/c01B.html#s086

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/c01B.html#sc01B.1

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jul 15, 2009 3:15am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered (kinescopes, delayed broadcasts by affiliates)

There is some debate as to interpreting the 1976 Act's definitions as being retroactive, effecting works existing as well as works yet to be created. The issue is whether a higher court would choose the definition of publication in the 1909 act over the 1976 act, which it might not. They are all lower court decisions. The only Circuit Court decision you linked to is a somewhat separate issue of a registered, unpublished work used as part of a derivative work.
It would be interesting whether the selective application of the 1909 Act in general, could potentially effect the validity of copyright in films from 1950 onwards that were published with notice but not timely registered.

This post was modified by Video-Cellar on 2009-07-15 10:15:04

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 15, 2009 4:35am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered (kinescopes, delayed broadcasts by affiliates)

I believe that the "Peter Pan" decision IS the most relevant. The court decision specifically addresses whether the law as it was prior to the 1976 Act would be applied. Quoting specific wording from the court decision (which in turn in quoted at chart.copyrightdata.com/c01B.html#s315):

"The common law definition of publication as it existed prior to January 1978 will be applied to determine whether or when NBC published 'Peter Pan.'" And: "the 1976 Act's standard does not apply to asserted publications occurring before the effective date of the new Act, even though the cause of action accrued after the date."

Yes, this decision could be overturned by a higher court. As it is, there is a pattern in the law of granting copyright holders the rights they knew they were getting -- and obligations they knew they were undertaking -- when the copyrights began, plus any new privileges granted afterward. There isn't a pattern of taking away rights.

The consolation for public-domain firms is that penalties in these cases have been light. (See the summaries on the page linked above.) Whether that will still be the case now that there are stiff penalties for infringement without profit (let alone higher penalties when there is profit), who can say?

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Poster: Seto-Kaiba_Is_Stupid Date: Jul 11, 2009 7:51pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered

Thanks. So I take it any United States song published before 1923 is OK for me to "re-work", so to speak? I just need absolute confirmation (I am a terrible reader).

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jul 12, 2009 4:53am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered

Yes

Any US song in the US public domain and any song from anywhere by a writer who died before 1955 is PD in Australia.

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Poster: Seto-Kaiba_Is_Stupid Date: Jul 12, 2009 5:05am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Video-Cellar, I need a question answered

Big Thanks! I just finished my first songwriting effort in months. It's called "Untitled Love Song" (catchy title I know) and it's to the tune of "45 Minutes from Broadway".